Shoehorning an expansive online space combat sim experience onto the iPad isn't without its challenges, but the tablet version of Vendetta Online delivers a faithful and surprisingly functional port of the long-running massively multiplayer online game. For players used to the more casual thrills offered on the App Store, Vendetta Online's exhaustive depth and complexity poses a steep learning curve to master upfront, though carving out your niche in the galaxy is undeniably absorbing once you open up the throttle.
In a marketplace chock full of free-to-play word games, Bookworm Heroes plays like a clear attempt to take back the mantle. PopCap didn’t invent casual word puzzles, but its Bookworm franchise certainly had a hand in its popularity. This asynchronous multiplayer entry boasts spritely animations and well-balanced word fighting mechanics, and serves as a nicely modernized successor to the franchise's name.
Little about the act of slicing strands seems terribly appealing in our everyday lives, but that simple premise is responsible for one of the App Store's biggest sensations. Cut the Rope's diverse and colorful physics-based puzzles have made green alien creature Om Nom a household name across two entries – the original smash and the even-more-whimsical Cut the Rope: Experiments – and now Cut the Rope: Time Travel aims to push the formula further ahead by looking to the past for thematic inspiration.
It's taken 22 years for a Sonic the Hedgehog game to reach the Mac, but while the first Apple outing isn't one of the hero's traditional on-foot adventures, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing isn't lacking in speed — or fun, for that matter. Using the tried-and-true Mario Kart template, All-Stars Racing packs in a bevy of familiar characters and locations from Sega's beloved properties, letting users command a driver through vibrantly colored worlds in rollicking circuit races that put an emphasis on drifting around turns and utilizing cartoonish weapons.
Most platform games are known for their difficulty in having players master the art of running and jumping over large gaps and onto hard-to-reach platforms. Taking this concept and turning it on its side, Illusion Labs’ latest game is a vertical auto-running title that simply requires you to know when to jump. Mr. Crab’s controls may sound easy, and its colorful visuals might seem a bit pre-school for some, but this friendly crustacean offers plenty of challenge to keep players of all ages coming back for more.
Bustin Beaver and his beaver bandits have stolen your wood, and being the cartoonish lumberjack that you are, you must punch them to get it back – or something like that. It doesn’t really matter; the motivation behind the fast-paced, hard-as-nails lumber-fueled platforming isn’t important. What matters is that Lumber Jacked delivers plenty of quick-hit fun, which it accomplishes via a mix of speedy sprinting, colorful action, and charming presentation.
Gemini Rue is a relic. At least, that’s how it appears. It’s a game that’s unapologetically old-school, designed with players that cut their teeth on Sierra and LucasArts’ point-and-click adventures of the ‘90s in mind, right down to the janky way a character’s walking animation may stutter as you click across the screen. For a 2011 indie PC title that's just made the leap to iPad and iPhone, this kind of attention to retro-detail is worth taking notice of.
If you've ever wondered whether there's a magical formula for how to suck out nearly every last ounce of fun from an otherwise pretty great game, Dungeon Hunter 4 is a shining example of the quickest way to get it done. Gameloft's latest slick entry in the venerable iOS dungeon crawling hack-and-slash series is absolutely rife with over-aggressive pitches for in-app purchases. Granted, some level of that is expected in free-to-play offerings of this caliber, but Dungeon Hunter 4's approach borders on the insidious. It's a shame, really, because the game itself is quite good – at least during the few brief moments when it's not prodding you incessantly to spend more and more cash.
Understanding classic poetry is hard enough, but memorizing it can be downright cruel. With archaic language, tricky rhymes, and unexpected rhythm variations, trying to remember the exact way William Shakespeare felt about the woman he loved can pretty much suck the beauty right out of it. Penguin Classics' Poems by Heart makes it easy (well, easier) to commit the classics to memory by turning the whole tedious process into a game, with level-ups and progress achievements that unlock as you learn.
Looking for the next great iOS brawler? You won’t find it here, but the free Injustice: Gods Among Us is still well worth downloading, especially for comic book fans. Playing as 18 of the DC Universe’s most popular heroes and villains, you’ll battle Flash, The Joker, and company in frantic, surprisingly addictive 2D-style bouts.